Thursday, January 19, 2017

BookMarks #19: Inferno

Title: Inferno
Author: Dan Brown
Genre: Fiction
Setting: Modern day Italy & Turkey
Published: 2013

Robert Langdon, a renowned professor of Symbology, finds himself in a hospital in Florence with no memory of the past few days. With the help of his doctor, Sienna Brooks, he tries to piece together the goings on. As he picks up one clue after another, he finds himself hunting for a virus which threatens to destroy humankind, while being simultaneously being chased around Florence by agents of the mysterious organization, "The Consortium" and its enigmatic head, the Provost. 

The virus had been created by a scientist, Bertrand Zobirist, who has extreme views on ways to contain the human population explosion. His extreme views had led him to be put on a bio-terrorist list by the World Health Organization's Director, Dr. Sinesky. 

The clues for the chase are mixed up in Botticelli's depiction of Dante's Inferno. Langdon uses his extensive knowledge of symbology to gather the clues, while simultaneously being troubled by his temporary amnesia. The hunt for the virus takes Langdon from Florence to Venice and then onwards to Istanbul. During the journey, he learns the mystery of his memory loss, all of which has been staged. Each character is playing out their  own game. But in the end, they are working towards to stop Zobirist's "plague". 

The exercise turns futile as the virus is released and spread throughout the world. However, the virus is different from their initial understanding and it is not a plague which the late Zobirist had released. The book ends with World Health Organization trying to figure out the path forward in this changed world.

And thus we meet Robert Langdon once again. The symobology professor seems to be in more trouble than usual, but that doesn't seem to affect his knowledge of symbols in any way. The book follows Dan Brown's, now patented formula of Langdon, accompanied by a female, being tracked by a mysterious organization while trying to save the world through his knowledge of symbology. All events happening within a 24-hour time frame. Always been a mystery to me how Langdon manages to see different arts and recall their history even with bullets flying all around him.

While the story is gripping, my main issue is with the "staged" plots outlining the main narrative. The revelations in the middle of the tale outlining the staged initiatives are a bit too much to digest. The overhanging tension is pricked like a balloon by these "revelations".

Botticelli's painting depicting Dante's descent into hell, around which the entire plot-line revolves. The book does serve as a good introduction to Dante's classic "The Divine Comedy". However, the interpretations should be backed by the reader's own research rather than sticking to just Mr. Brown's version. (e.g. the ringa-ringa-roses backstory)

Overall, it is an intriguing tale combining interpretations of art with human population explosion under a threat of plague as many a charade play out.

My favorite line - the  quote from Divine Comedy - "the darkest place in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in time of moral crisis". With all the goings on in today's world, taking the right stand is the only way to counter the forces of evil which are innumerable!

Previously on BookMarks - Wuthering Heights

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